Jupiter - located in Pisces. The "king of the planets" can be seen about 30 degrees up in the west at sunset during February and remains well placed for an hour or two. Jupiter will be magnitude -2.1 and have a diameter that decreases from 36 to 34 arc-seconds during the month.
The SEB disturbance first seen by amateurs on November 9, 2010 continues to expand, forming two thin dark belts that now encircle the planet. These belts should thicken and grow darker until the SEB is fully reformed. More information and images of the SEB disturbance can be seen here:
Jupiter's Great Red Spot, a large anti-cyclone, can be seen centered on the planet's disc at the following times (EST):
|02/02, 08:33 pm||02/07, 07:43 pm||02/17, 06:04 pm|
|02/05, 06:04 pm||02/12, 06:53 pm||02/24, 06:53 pm|
Additional times for viewing the Great Red Spot can be found here:
Some excellent images of Jupiter can be seen here:
A guide for making visual observations of Jupiter can be found here:
Uranus - located in Pisces. Uranus can best be seen around 7:00 pm EST during early February, when it will be 25 degrees up in the west. Look for it about 5 degrees below Jupiter. Uranus will be magnitude 5.9 and have a tiny 3.3 arc-second pale green disc. This is the last month to see Uranus until it enters the morning sky in late April.
A finder chart for Uranus can be found here:
Saturn - located in Virgo. The ringed planet is visible mainly in the morning sky. It rises by 10 pm at mid-month and can be see 44 degrees up in the south by 4 am. Saturn will be magnitude 0.6 with an apparent diameter of 19 arc-seconds. The rings will be 40 arc-seconds across with a tilt of 10 degrees to our line-of-sight.
The largest storm since 1990 has appeared in Saturn's northern hemisphere. It has a bright white color and is located in Saturn's North Tropical Zone. Initially the storm was a small spot but now spans roughly 100 degrees of longitude. The bright leading edge of the storm can be seen centered on the planet's disc at roughly the times (EST) listed below. Keep in mind that the trailing edge of the storm transits about 2 hours before the leading edge.
|02/01, 03:09 am||02/11, 10:20 pm||02/20, 06:49 am|
|02/02, 12:32 am||02/12, 06:24 am||02/21, 04:12 am|
|02/04, 05:59 am||02/13, 03:47 am||02/22, 01:34 am|
|02/05, 03:22 am||02/14, 01:10 am||02/23, 10:57 pm|
|02/06, 12:45 am||02/15, 10:32 pm||02/24, 07:01 am|
|02/07, 10:07 pm||02/16, 06:36 am||02/25, 04:24 am|
|02/08, 06:12 am||02/17, 03:59 am||02/26, 01:47 am|
|02/09, 03:34 am||02/18, 01:22 am||02/27, 11:10 pm|
|02/10, 12:57 am||02/19, 10:45 pm|
More images and information about this rare storm can be seen here:
Some excellent images of Saturn can be seen here:
The Cassini spacecraft continues its observation of Saturn and its many moons and rings. For the latest images from Cassini, see:
Venus - is the "morning star" until August. Look for it about 20 degrees up in the SE just before sunrise. Venus will be magnitude -4.2 and have a gibbous disc that decreases in diameter from 20 to 16 arc-seconds.
Here are some recent images of Venus made by amateur astronomers:
Epsilon Aurigae - a unique eclipsing variable star, is nearing the end of its long-awaited eclipse. This variable is a binary star where one companion eclipses the other once every 27 years. During an eclipse, Epsilon drops in brightness from magnitude 2.9 to 3.8 and remains at 3.8 for over 1 year before slowly recovering. The star is currently magnitude 3.6 and will begin to emerge from total eclipse this month. Epsilon is well placed for viewing from 6 pm till 2 am EST during February.
More information and finder charts for this variable star can be found here:
Updated February 1, 2011
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